Mar. 28, 2012 - Issue #858: Norwegian Wood
Fri, Mar 30, The Artery
Bahamas, also known as Afie Jurvanen spent years playing alongside acts like Great Lake Swimmers, The Stills, Howie Beck and most recently Feist. Now, he's celebrating the release of his latest solo album, Barchords and took the time to tell Vue all about it.
Vue Weekly: How long did it take to make Barchords from the initial songwriting through to the end of the recording?
Afie Jurvanen: The dates are a little fuzzy because my songwriting process is a continuous thing, but I'd say I spent two years writing the songs and then six days recording them. That seems to be the way I'm most comfortable working, to put the majority of the time and effort into writing the best song I can write. Recording is the fun part.
VW: When you were writing the songs, did you come at them in a particular way? Lyrics first? Music first?
AJ: I wrote most of these songs in between touring for my last record, Pink Strat. I almost always start with a lyric idea and that usually suggests a particular melody. It's funny how certain words will tell you exactly how they should be sung.
VW: What influences your songwriting?
AJ: Most of my songs are about different relationships in my life and my complicated role in them. Sometimes that results in some very direct storytelling, but I think it would be difficult for me to colour it any other way.
VW: What were the recording sessions like for this album? Is this the kind of thing you recorded live or did you piece it together one track at a time? Why?
AJ: We recorded quickly and it was very much a lively recording. People playing in the same room together, really listening and reacting to each other. There were no rehearsals, I would just count the songs off and the band would fall in pretty quickly. Usually the first take is the most inspired and full of nervous energy and those are the songs that are really special to me on the album.
VW: Were there any other songs written that were left off the album?
AJ: Yes. There always is. I guess I'm fortunate to have enough material to pick and choose. Sometimes you work hard on something and it doesn't turn out the way you thought it would. It's nice to know I can just make that thing go away!
VW: How did you decide which songs to include on the album? Did you have an idea of what you wanted Barchords to be when you started, or did the finished shape emerge as the writing and recording went along?
AJ: I tried to choose the songs that had a clear narrative connecting them all. Many of the songs explore a similar theme, sometimes a similar melody. I also wanted the human voice to be the instrument that permeated the album and really inform the finished songs.
VW: You worked with Robbie Lackritz to produce the album. What drew you to him and what did he bring to the process?
AJ: Robbie? He's my buddy. We've done a lot of touring together and I've done all my recording with him. He used to be my roommate. He's my manager. He's my producer. He's my best friend! I wouldn't say the album sounds produced, even though it has a cohesive tone and mood. Robbie made all of those esthetic decisions, where to place certain instruments, what microphones to use.
He's an engineer of the highest order and I think he understands me and my music very deeply. I completely trust him and I think that's a rare and special thing for any relationship, let alone a musical one. I'm really lucky to have him in my life.
VW: If you were to trace the musical map that led you to Barchords, what would it look like?
AJ: I'm weary of maps ... A bad map is worse than no map at all for it engenders in the traveler a false confidence and might easily cause him to set aside those instincts which would otherwise guide him if he would but place himself in their care. Seems to me the best map is just to follow what feels right. I know I'll get there eventually, so I'm okay with stumbling around a bit along the way. It's more interesting anyway. V
Fri, Mar 30 (8 pm)
The Artery, $17
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